Rivian is expanding its electric vehicle fleet customers beyond Amazon — and raises production forecasts for 2023
Amazon is no longer the only company purchasing electric delivery trucks from Rivian.
Electric car maker Rivian said Tuesday that its deal with Amazon is no longer exclusive. The long-awaited move means Rivian is now free to sign deals with new companies looking to electrify their fleets and reduce their carbon footprint – using normally manufactured electric vehicles.
Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the company will soon announce “a range of different pilot programs that will precede much larger orders” from fleet customers.
“We have built relationships with a variety of commercial operators. This is everything from last mile to retail through to a wide range of industrial or commercial business situations,” Scaring said.
Amazon, which has a stake in Rivian, is still buying Rivian trucks as well. Amazon already has more than 10,000 Rivian-made pickup trucks in its fleet, with another 90,000 on order as part of a 2019 deal.
After some changes next year, Rivian’s regular manufacturing plant will be able to produce 65,000 electric trucks per year, in addition to 85,000 R1 trucks and SUVs for consumers. This would put the factory’s total production capacity at 150,000 cars.
“I think our commercial truck platform is really, from our perspective, the best commercial truck option available for any type of large fleet,” Scarring said. “And we’re working hard to translate that into year-over-year volume over the next few quarters with these pilot programs.”
Other news during the third quarter earnings call
News about the expanded fleet sales came Tuesday during Rivian’s third-quarter earnings call with investors. The company said it lost $1.3 billion in the third quarter (July, August and September), down from a loss of $1.7 billion at this time last year.
Revenue was $1.3 billion, up from $536 million in the third quarter of 2022.
Rivian raised its overall production forecast for 2023 – from 52,000 to 54,000 vehicles. Scaring said that increasing production at Normal is key to achieving profit, along with reducing the amount of spending on materials and raising prices.
Rivian’s factory in Normal will close for a week at the end of 2023 to help prepare for a longer production shutdown in mid-2024. That’s when a major revamp of the production line will take place, Scaring said, that includes changes to the design of parts and components and simplification of things like the HVAC system ( HVAC) for vehicles and body structure.
Officials said these closures will reduce costs and allow production volumes to increase in the long term, although they will reduce production in the short term. Rivian has about 8,000 regular sector employees; It is the second largest employer in the county.
“The effects of the lockdown are temporary in nature, but the benefits will be there well into the future,” said Claire McDonough, Rivian’s chief financial officer.
Scaringe said demand for Rivian products remains strong, even with a relatively limited product line. Rivian is expected to begin production in 2026 in Georgia on a low-cost consumer electric vehicle, called the R2 — expected to be priced between $40,000 and $60,000.
Others are more skeptical about the pace of electric vehicle adoption. GM, Ford and even Tesla are now expressing caution about expanding electric vehicle production capacity, citing economic uncertainties and concerns about slowing demand. Some critics say electric vehicles are overrated.
Scaringe acknowledged that rhetoric on Tuesday, noting “a lot of hype and a lot of dialogue around electric vehicle adoption.”
“I want to state categorically how deeply we are convinced that the entire auto industry will transition to electric vehicles within the next decade or two,” Scaring said. “We have built and designed our business around this transformation. We have designed our team structure, our technology stack, and the way we approach vertical integration, not only to help our business scale profitably, but to ensure that we are positioned to be a leader in this generational opportunity.”
On Tuesday, Rivian officials noted that interest rates had risen several times. They also announced the launch of a rental program for selected models.
“This leasing program creates a different way for customers to access the product, which is really helpful in an interest rate environment like we see today,” Scaring said.
We depend on your support to continue telling stories like this. You – along with donors across NPR – are working to create a more informed public. Fact after fact, story after story. Please take a moment to donate now and fund the local news our community needs. Your support really makes a difference.